HARI SREENIVASAN: The mayor of Kandahar was assassinated in southern Afghanistan today. A suicide bomber hid explosives in his turban, before blowing himself up inside a heavily fortified government compound. It’s the third Taliban attack on an Afghan powerbroker in the south in more than two weeks.
The new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, said it’s proof the Taliban is so damaged, it can’t carry out large-scale operations. He spoke today in Kabul.
RYAN CROCKER, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan: They have had to kind of regroup and figure out what they can do. And, in some cases, that has been assassination. Again, we saw a very similar pattern in Iraq. Clearly, these are horrific attacks, but they can also be interpreted as a sign of significant organizational weakness.
HARI SREENIVASAN: A Taliban spokesman told the Associated Press the Kandahar mayor was targeted for ordering the destruction of homes city officials claimed were illegally constructed. Two children were killed during that demolition.
The prime minister of Norway today announced an independent commission will review how last week’s twin attacks were allowed to happen. And more details emerged about the self-confessed killer who is in police custody.
We have a report from Carl Dinnen of Independent Television News.
CARL DINNEN: By the side of the lake, a short distance from the island of Utoya, Norwegians are still grappling with the enormity of what happened in this beautiful place.
Five days on, and police are still searching the waters around Utoya. They’re using sonar and a mini-submersible. It’s been reported, although not confirmed by police, that the number of missing has now been downgraded from five people to one. And police have been describing the moment they arrived on the island to arrest Anders Behring Breivik.
HAAVARD GAASBAKK, Norwegian Police (through translator): We came into a clearance in the forest, and suddenly there was a gunman with his hands above his head just in front of us. We apprehended him in the normal manner. His weapons lay 50 meters away on the ground. What happened next was that one of the police officers took control of the gunman, and all the others ran to the victims to give first aid.
CARL DINNEN: The survivors say they are now looking after one another.
TONJE BRENNA, Norwegian Labor Party youth movement: People are really sad. But we support each other and we take care of each other. And also the public is very warm towards the people who are involved in this, and that is very good to know.
CARL DINNEN: And how are you feeling?
TONJE BRENNA: I feel sad. I feel scared, but I also feel very taken care of.
CARL DINNEN: Recorded on a CCTV camera in a nearby shop, this was the moment the bomb exploded in Oslo, killing eight people. Mobile phone footage captures the confusion outside on the street.
It’s now believed that police have identified Breivik as having hired the bomb car before they got to the island. This evening, Norway’s prime minister said his government would contribute towards the victims’ funeral costs, and he announced a new investigation.
JENS STOLTENBERG, Norwegian prime minister (through translator): We will call this the 22nd of July commission and it will report directly to me. It will give its findings to parliament.
CARL DINNEN: A short time after he spoke, the police confirmed the names of another 13 victims of Friday’s attacks. The youngest had just celebrated her 14th birthday when she was killed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Norwegian anti-terror police today defended their response to reaching the island, and said a broken-down boat didn’t delay their arrival. Since the first reports of shooting on the island, it took police 90 minutes to arrive on the scene.
A plane carrying 10 tons of food aid landed in famine-hit Somalia today, enough to feed 3,500 children for a month. The World Food Program said it is the first airlift to arrive there since the U.N. declared a famine in parts of Somalia last week.
Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies are doubling efforts across the border in Kenya, where thousands of Somalis have fled for food and shelter. The U.N. estimates more than 11 million people in East Africa need aid as a result of the drought.
Landslides killed at least 36 people in South Korea today. They were triggered by torrential downpours which dumped 15 inches of rain in and around Seoul in just 17 hours. The deluge turned the capital city’s streets into gushing creeks. Rescue crews used ropes to pull people trapped in partially submerged cars to safety. Weather forecasters warned another 10 inches of rain could fall in Seoul through Friday.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.